The game on Monday night was, in a nut shell, the reason Phil Emery hired Marc Trestman. Trestman’s offense dominated the depleted and dreadful Cowboys’ defense. The Bears didn’t punt a single time all game long, which is a good thing when Adam Podlesh is your punter, and Josh McCown had an outstanding performance. I don’t think McCown is a long term solution for any team, but I am more comfortable with him than I was with past Bears’ back-up quarterbacks.
Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware, besides a meaningless fourth quarter sack, were dominated on every drive by the Bears’ offensive line. That may have been that unit’s best work of the year. Because of that, Matt Forte and even Michael Bush had plenty of holes to run through, and the Bears stomped Dallas to improve to 7-5 and win their first December home game since 2010.
The Browns have really struggled lately, but for a young team, they consistently put out great efforts for head coach Rod Chudzinski. They have lost to Detroit, New England, Baltimore (twice), Kansas City, and Miami by an average of 8 points. Jason Campbell is having a pretty good season in relief of the inept Brandon Weeden, but all of that credit should go to second-year standout WR Josh Gordon, who has been putting on a show this season. Cleveland’s front office took a lot of heat earlier in the year when they dealt Trent Richardson to the Colts, but that trade has turned out to be a steal for the Browns as Richardson has really struggled since arriving in Indianapolis. Winning in grubby Cleveland is never an easy task, but the Bears do have something to build off of after their pounding of the Cowboys.
College Football Recap
Cleveland is pretty consistent this time of the year. Temperatures will definitely be below 32 degrees, and there is a 50/50 chance of snow showers. Wind gusts could vary anywhere from 25-40 mph, which will make field goal attempts unquestionably difficult.
Jay Cutler (ankle) gets the start today. Lance Briggs (shoulder) remains sidelined. Besides those two and the obvious season ending injuries for Charles Tillman, Henry Melton and so on, the Bears are healthy. The Browns are the opposite. DE Desmond Bryant (heart), LB Brandon Magee (pectoral), and LB Quentin Groves (ankle) are all finished for the season, with Bryant being the biggest loss. He was very good for the Raiders last season and signed a big deal with Cleveland, but an irregular heartbeat ended his year earlier this month after a solid first 3 months. RB Willis McGahee (head), TE Andre Smith (calf), and G John Greco (knee) are out, but T Reid Fragel (illness), T Joe Thomas (back), and LB D’Qwell Jackson (ankle) are probable.
Did you know?
Josh Gordon has more receiving yards in the last four games than any receiver has ever had in a four game stretch. In those four games, the Browns are 0-4.
I actually can’t believe that it’s already week 15. Football season, which is the best time of the year, always flies by. For this week, I think Dallas, Detroit, Miami, and Seattle all get W’s. I also think Pittsburgh gets an upset win at home against Cincinnati on Sunday Night Football. (32-23-1 on the year)
Players to Watch
Josh Gordon- As I wrote earlier on, Josh Gordon has been great for the Browns so far in 2013. He is catching everything thrown his way from whichever horseshit quarterback the Browns trot out there. He has good hands and blazing speed, meaning any catch can go for a touchdown. For a player comparison, he reminds me a lot of Chris Johnson in terms of his ability to take any touch for six points. Obviously, Johnson and Gordon play two different positions, but the game-breaking ability of Gordon rivals Johnson’s first few years in the league. The Bears’ pass defense has been better the last two games, which is shocking considering one of the opponents was Dez Bryant. They need a similar effort today.
Jordan Cameron- Hidden under all of the praise and glory thrown Josh Gordon’s way has been the emergence of Jordan Cameron. Cameron came out of USC being a raw pass catcher because he was barely used there, and many scouts thought he could be a WR instead of his current position of TE. Cameron’s first two years were a big disappointment, but he has really come into his own this year. He already has 72 catches and 7 touchdowns, which is very good for a tight end catching passes from these quarterbacks. Similar to Dez Bryant, Chicago limited Jason Witten’s production, and they must do another good job of that in this game.
Alshon Jeffery- Cleveland has been pretty solid against the pass, giving up only 222 passing yards each week, and that is good for 7th best in football. Most of that can be credited to the play of SS T.J. Ward and CB Joe Haden, both of whom should be in the Pro Bowl this season. However, Haden will likely be matched up with Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately for the Browns, Alshon Jeffery might be the best receiver on this team, and he should be able to have another good game against the weaker Buster Skrine. By the way, how awesome is that to read? Jeffery has been leaps and bounds better than last year. He is catching everything and has even shown off his underrated speed. That touchdown catch he made last week was absolutely incredible. Jeffery is going to play a major role in the future of the Bears’ offense.
Julius Peppers- Julius Peppers had another typical Julius Peppers game. In past years, that would mean that Peppers dominated the Cowboys, but as everyone now knows, Peppers is way past his prime. Peppers’ name once again did not show up on the stat sheet last week. This week, he needs to be better. Joe Thomas is has been in the Pro Bowl every year since he was drafted and so he is probably better than Tyron Smith, the tackle that Peppers predominantly went up against last week, so it won’t be easy. I look for Mel Tucker to try to get Peppers moving around the line today to get pressure on Jason Campbell. The Browns have given up tons of sacks this year, ranking second to last in that category. This is a game where Peppers and his fellow linemen should be able to notch at least 3 sacks.
This game is going to be another tough one. This is Cleveland’s final home game of the year, and D’Qwell Jackson has talked this week about that being motivational for him and his team. As I said, the Browns boast one of the league’s best defenses, and Jason Campbell has somehow proved to be a solid back-up quarterback. In the end, I believe Chicago has the better team, hence the 7-6 record compared to the 4-9 record that the Browns have. I believe Jay Cutler getting back in the line-up will spark the team, despite what every meathead fan has told you since Monday’s game came to an end. The ability of the Browns’ defense and Josh Gordon’s skill will keep Cleveland in it, but the Bears have too much to play for. Remember: the Bears’ biggest weakness is their run defense, but the Browns don’t have much of a running offense. Chris Ogbonnaya doesn’t have enough talent to be a major factor in this contest. Bears 24-17. (8-5 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)